The New England Patriots earned what might have been a season-saving 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, and a large chunk of the credit belongs to head coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick had his players well-prepared to not only face a very good opponent in the Ravens -- a team led by star quarterback and reigning MVP winner Lamar Jackson -- but also overcome fierce weather conditions at Gillette Stadium that included steady rain and fierce winds.
Former Patriots safety and current NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison was impressed by Belichick's performance Sunday night versus the Ravens.
"I've heard coach Belichick talk so many times this year about being outcoached, outplayed and not prepared, and I understand the Patriots haven't had a lot of practice, but a lot of teams haven't had a lot of practice," Harrison told NBC Sports' Jac Collinsworth on "Safety Blitz".
"But I thought (Sunday night) was a masterful job because he used the weather just like when we used to play against the Colts and all these other teams, these California teams that came in and really used it to his advantage. He went back to his roots. What are the Patriots’ roots? Even when Tom Brady was there, it was physicality, having tough and smart guys who play well under pressure, and it always started in the trenches, whether it was the offensive line or defensive line. They controlled the offensive line. They absolutely did a wonderful job.
“Damien Harris, like, what other number than No. 37 should he be wearing? This dude is tough, he’s physical, he runs with a lot of energy. Between him and Rex Burkhead, what more do you want from the running backs? James White is excellent out of the backfield, but those two guys are very versatile, too. When I watch them, this is what we’ve been expecting from the Patriots. We’ve been expecting this tough, physical team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. We expect a level of accuracy from Cam Newton with these short, intermediate passes. I thought Belichick did his best coaching job since the Seattle game last night.”
The Patriots won the turnover battle and held the typically explosive Ravens offense to just 17 points, but the biggest factor in why New England emerged victorious was its rushing attack. The Pats tallied 173 rushing yards with one touchdown on 39 carries. Harris led the way with a career-high 121 yards on the ground.
The win over the Ravens put the Patriots right back into the AFC playoff race. They are just two games behind a wild card spot and 2.5 games out of first place in the AFC East.